In Ramallah, Blinken laments killing of ‘innocent Palestinian civilians’

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday lamented the killing of “innocent Palestinian civilians” during a surge in Israeli-Palestinian violence over the past year.

After meeting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, Blinken expressed “condolences and sorrow for the innocent Palestinian civilians who have lost their lives in escalating violence over the last year.”

Israel has in some cases said that its forces have mistakenly killed non-combatants in the context of raids on militants linked to fatal attacks on Israeli civilians.

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Since the start of the year, the conflict has claimed the lives of 35 Palestinian adults and children - including attackers, militants and civilians.

Over the same period six Israeli civilians, including a child, and one Ukrainian civilian have been killed, all shot dead in an attack Friday outside an east Jerusalem synagogue.

Last year was the deadliest year in the occupied West Bank since the UN started tracking the death toll in the occupied territory in 2005.

Blinken also warned Israeli and Palestinian leaders against any moves that makes a two-state solution to the conflict “more difficult.”

Addressing Israel’s new hardline right-wing government, whose leader and ministers he met during his visit, Blinken said that list includes “settlement expansion, the legalization of outposts, demolitions and evictions.”

The government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu strongly backs expanding the Jewish settler presence across the West Bank, communities considered illegal under international law.

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